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Welcome back to Arrow Squad! This week, the triumvirate is a dumvirate as I, Miss Ice, was unable to join the boys for the discussion of Arrow Season 4 Episode 15 “Taken”. It’s been a weird month of work and personal issues, but I hope to see everything going back to a normal schedule soon and finishing out season 4 of Arrow strong! This episode of Arrow originally aired on February 24, 2016 and features the DC Comics hero Vixen, who is portrayed by Megalyn Echikunwoke (a.k.a. Megalyn EK). To see more of this character, I encourage you to check out the Vixen mini-series on CW Seed! It is definitely worth a watch.
Overall, I actually did enjoy this week’s episode. Reactions were on point, no one held back, and there was enough utilization of Vixen’s character to make the crossover worth it. That said, it is the details that bug me. The details, the small things, have such large implications for the future, and I do not like how they come together in order to orchestrate the drama. The action has taken a back seat to relationship drama brought about by small details that are absurd and out of character.
For once, little time is required to debate what is meant by the episode title. William Clayton, Oliver’s son, is taken by Damien Dahrk & Co. (specifically, we learn later in the episode, by a one-armed man…). The episode revolves around Oliver’s efforts to reclaim his son without losing his claim on life as he knows it.
There was little doubt in my mind that the decisions made by select characters over the course of the first half of season 4 would lead to results other than what we witnessed in this episode. Samantha’s ultimatum put Oliver into an impossible situation and essentially caused the fallout in this episode. Because William was kept a secret from the world, Damien Darhk was able to take advantage of Oliver’s desire to keep him a secret; because William was kept a secret from Felicity, she was exposed to just how damaging Oliver’s penchant for secrecy can be.
While I’m not surprised at Felicity’s decision to give Oliver the ring back, I am a bit miffed at the explanation she gave him. In the course of putting myself into Felicity’s shoes, I cannot come to a great conclusion of how I would react in that situation…but I am reminded of how a similar (logistic) scenario played out in Gilmore Girls (which I won’t go into, because this doesn’t seem like the right audience…) and know that there are likely unlimited ways for women to handle the news that their soon-to-be has a child.
Felicity tells Oliver that while she understands he was put into this no-win situation, it doesn’t change the fact that he excluded her from the decision. This I resonate with; I’d want my significant other to want my insight. Or, at the very least, want me to help him sort through options. What I don’t quite get is how someone, who is as in love with another person as Felicity is with Oliver, can simply (and literally) walk away. I get taking some space, I get needing to re-evaluate and even post-pone pending nuptials, but I don’t understand–knowing what Felicity knows about Oliver–the absoluteness of handing back the ring.
On the other hand, I also see how Felicity’s view of the world is very black and white. It’s all or nothing. It’s truth, or it’s a lie. It’s how she reacted the first time she found out about William in the erased timeline, and that was 30 seconds after Oliver had found out himself. So while Oliver makes too many allowances, Felicity doesn’t make enough.
I’ve hesitated several times while writing this out, because I don’t want to be unfair to either character. Shadow was upset with Felicity’s out of character comment last week (the “Because you’re a man…” comment to Captain Lance), and this week I’m just upset with her rationale. She entered into this relationship with Oliver knowing who he is and what his tendencies are. And that is NOT me saying “she’s getting what she deserves”, but rather she knows that Oliver is prone to secret-keeping but is in fact making tremendous efforts to change. Instead of acknowledging that change is possible, based on what she’s seen from him, she decides he won’t change.
Felicity has charge of her own life, and every person has the right to make the decisions he or she needs to in order to function and maintain their own sanity. I’m also not necessarily trying to defend Oliver’s actions; if you’ve been listening to Arrow Squad you’ll know that I disapprove of him rolling over to Samantha’s demands. What always bums me out is when people choose to give up instead of seeking out ways to improve a situation. Since Felicity and Oliver got together, and not counting the erased timeline, there have been very few moments in which Oliver has disappointed Felicity. I’d actually really like it if someone could point out one such instance to me because I’m having trouble thinking of any at the moment. This isn’t a big mistake at the end of a long line of big mistakes… this is a big mistake after a long period of self-improvement, which was initiated because of his love for her.
For a show about superheroes, I’m spending a lot of time on the love story aspect. Honestly, what else are they really giving us right now?
The animated web series, available on CW Seed, is a great watch. It is a solid origin story about Mari McCabe and how she comes about the magic that allows her to channel the characteristics of animals. The live-action version of Mari, a.k.a. Vixen, was very well done. The ghostly phantoms of the animals she channelled were awesome, even if the actress’s physicality left much to be desired.
I’ve been complaining for several episodes that Team Arrow is attacking Darhk in the same way, over and over, and expecting different results… and finally! Felicity agrees with me. The introduction of Vixen finally has Team Arrow fighting magic with magic, and altering their approach even if they’re not entirely sure of what the approach is they’re taking. The interest that Mari has in her own talisman enables her to postulate that Darhk may have one of his own… But again, they jump from potentiality to actuality to success within a matter of minutes, making it seem so incredibly weird that they never thought of this before. That Constantine didn’t think to mention it. All along it was as straightforward as stealing Darhk’s magic mojo?
The real qualm I had with Mari’s character was in the advice she gives to Oliver as it pertains to his son. Oliver is highly susceptible to taking the advice of people who agree with him, which is why I so severely despised Thea siding with him. What has made this show work from the beginning was Oliver teaming up with people who thought differently than him in order to balance him out. But now, all of a sudden, everyone is agreeing with him.
Well, I guess I should clarify. Oliver told Felicity that he thought he should keep William close after everything that has happened, but really what Oliver “wants” is whatever will keep Samantha “happy” so that he might eventually have a “real” relationship with his son. Because he has no true conviction of making Samantha do something she doesn’t initially want to do, he’s susceptible to Mari’s diatribe that giving William a chance at a normal childhood would be best for him.
In spite of all the personal growth Oliver has undergone since the close of last season, he’s almost been, in a sense, castrated. The decisions he’s making are in the interest of keeping select parties happy; he’s not making decisions with conviction, but out of personal obligation; and he won’t take control of situation that will give him an advantage. While I don’t want the Green Arrow to be a killer, he definitely does not have the edge that made him a protector in the first place. Particularly when it comes to the most villainous villains he’s faced thus far.
Next week… Oh, wait.
Arrow returns Wednesday March 23rd with episode 16 “Broken Hearts”
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